There goes a swallow to Venice—
the stout seafarer!
Seeing those birds fly, makes one wish
So wrote old Browning, sitting in his English garden one spring morning, and O! I know too well that delicious pull of distant parts, foreign places, and different ways of living. I have watched the birds fly off too, as the drizzle falls out of a gray Welsh sky, the sheep in the field next door stand there hangdog and reproachful, and whenever the telephone rings it seems to be somebody getting the wrong number—oh, yes, I've wished for the wings of a 747 often enough, when the opposite of homesickness sets in.
And I know well, too, the exquisite thrill of moving into a new house somewhere altogether else, in somebody else's country, where the climate is different, the food is different, the light is different, where the mundane preoccupations of life at home don't seem to apply and it is even fun to go shopping. Travel itself, after all, is largely a matter of enjoying differences—why else would those swallows migrate? Transferring one's whole being—family, possessions, bank accounts, blankets, mixers, and all—gives us the same pleasure in less restless form.
It is seldom a permanent pleasure. Most people I know who move to a foreign part do not stay there forever, just as people who succumb to the allure of isolated islands generally seem to creep back sheepishly, sooner or later, to the conveniences of suburbia. All my own excursions into the expatriate condition have been temporary, but that has not made them any the less exciting. When we find our dream retreat far away, most of us know well enough that its first foreign delights are presently going to wear off, until they hardly seem foreign at all; we put that out of our minds, though, and glory in our exotic new garden, poke happily around our smoke-stained antique kitchen, peer dreamily from our leaded casement window, as though it is all going to be fresh and strange forever.